Title: Doctrine of the Angelic Conflict, part 24 - The essence of God - Righteousness. JOS 24:19; ISA 5:16-25; PRO 22:3; ROM 1:17.
F. Righteousness: God is infinitely perfect in both His person and character and absolute good. He cannot sin nor have anything to do with sin except to judge it.
It is so very important that the righteousness of God be taught clearly and systematically from the scripture, for satan’s schemes are designed to destroy man in the eternal fire and somehow spare himself, though it is impossible for him.
Because God is holy [set apart as +R and +J], men can only fellowship with God in time and eternity if they are holy or experientially sanctified.
JOS 24:19 Then Joshua said to the people, "You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins.
This is a place where verses hurt the clarity of the word of God:
JOS 24:20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you."
This is divine discipline and not eternal condemnation. Joshua is speaking to the nation that is now the recipients of the Promised Land and he is reminding them of the 5 books given by God to Moses. In the nation there are believers and unbelievers. If neither submit to the Law and worship other gods then they are under divine discipline [bad crops, disease, foreign invasion], however, the believer is eternally saved.
ISA 5:16 But the Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment,
And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.
ISA 5:18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, And sin as if with cart ropes [strong attachment];
ISA 5:19 Who say, "Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that we may know it!"
These in ISA 5:19 are what the Psalms and Proverbs so often refer to as the fools and scorners. They are actually challenging God to bring it.
ISA 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;,
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;,
Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
ISA 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And clever in their own sight!
ISA 5:22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine,
And valiant men in mixing strong drink;
ISA 5:23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!
ISA 5:24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble,
And dry grass collapses into the flame [imagery of judgment seat of Christ],
So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
ISA 5:25 On this account the anger of the Lord has burned against His people, And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down, And the mountains quaked; and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. For all this His anger is not spent, But His hand is still stretched out.
The imagery of verse 24 is repeated in Jer 17:
JER 17:5 Thus says the Lord,
"Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the Lord.
JER 17:6 "For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.
JER 17:7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
JER 17:8 "For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
Therefore, satan had to be judged and when he rejected the offer of reconciliation, he had to be condemned along with all the fallen who have said no to God’s redemption. The only Righteous, the Righteous God cannot spend eternity with the unrighteous. God in His genius found a way to make the unrighteous righteous, and this is what the world is convicted of every day by God the Holy Spirit.
Therefore we see from these passages that the holiness of God is active.
As a primary motive, righteousness incites all that He does; therefore He is righteous in all His ways.
Though infinitely holy, He nevertheless maintains a relation to fallen creatures; not an inactive aloofness from them, but a vital, pulsating nearness.
His is not a holiness which is engendered by a sustained effort or preserved by segregation from other beings. The holiness of God is intrinsic (part of His very nature), uncreated, and untarnishable; it is observable in every divine attitude and action. It embraces not only His devotion to that which is good, but is also the very basis and force of His hatred of that which is evil. Thus there is in divine holiness the capacity for reaction toward others which is both positive and negative.
And since all have fallen, all divine response from His holiness to His creatures would be negative, unless He found a way to pour out justice upon a perfect substitute.
We could not argue that God wouldn’t be right and just in condemning us all to the eternal fire, but He did not do so, for part of His integrity and character that cannot be overlooked or diminished in the terrible light of justice is God’s love.
The judicial imputation of the sins of the world upon Christ was done in perfect righteousness, PSA 22:3.
PSA 22:1 My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
PSA 22:2 O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.
PSA 22:3 Yet Thou art holy,
O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
Righteousness demanded judgment for sin and Jesus Christ satisfied (propitiated) the justice of God at the cross.
The righteousness of God is only introduced to man through the gospel and then realized through maturity adjustment to the grace of God, ROM 1:17.
ROM 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
When a person is ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ, is afraid of being ridiculed, of being considered a little strange, he obviously doesn’t have enough Bible doctrine to know what it is all about. The gospel is the good news about the person and work of Jesus Christ so it is a word that contains all aspects of soteriology. The maturing believer has enough doctrine to not be ashamed of any of it, for it is the power of God for salvation.
ROM 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
“from faith to faith” - from active faith in the gospel to passive or receptive inculcation of doctrine. [R.B. Theime]
The reality presented here is from salvation adjustment to the justice of God to maturity adjustment to the grace of God.
The word for righteousness, dikaiosune, means the righteous thinking of a judge and therefore judicial righteousness. What the +R of God demands the +J of God executes.
The believer is always justified before God and so his growth to maturity is based on grace, which the justice of God as established as the policy for the plan of God since the flesh can do nothing to please Him. The one who is experientially justified is the one who lives by grace under his graciously given predestination.
Maturity in the spiritual life is not a result of action, but it is always the result of tremendous responsiveness to doctrine, which is why the verb in ROM 12:2 is in the passive voice.